C'est Inspiré is simply that - what is inspiring. Where the words end, images continue to speak. Seeing all that is around us, we seek some aspect of something that is life enhancing... something that you would like to be reminded of - to revisit. Something to capture and bring into your world, not leave behind... . That is why I take a camera everywhere; have spent countless hours organizing images in scrapbooks and pouring over them later to revisit the place, the people, the memory.
So, C'est Inspiré may be a single photo - or it may be 50, it may mean one thing to me, another to you - the meaning isn't important. Did it inspire? Did it make you smile? Did it bring back a pleasant memory? One or all of the above will do.
During a brief period of his life, the legendary art historian Bernard Berenson kept diaries where he wrote about how to see - and what he saw. These diaries were published under the title The Passionate Sightseer and edited by Raymund Mortimer.
Anyone, anywhere, anytime can be a passionate sightseer - just look.
“Those dresses had such capacity to amaze,” reflects Isabelle de Borchgrave on the Metropolitan Opera’s production of La Traviata. “They were so beautiful that they became a powerful source of inspiration. They gave me the desire to create.”
Viewing the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco was like visiting the fantastic royal court of some imagined monarch. The experience something between Alice falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland and a tour of the costume archives of the Metropolitan Opera. Just arriving at the Legion of Honor, an austere neoclassical building, with its commanding view of downtown San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, one feels regal. You are being received by the Court of de Borchgrave.
Descending into a magical realm, at first I had no idea what I was seeing. Even having read a few articles and seen photographs, it was not until I actually laid eyes on the work that it got to me. First reaction: Total madness. Obsession. What could be driving this insane articulation of the history of costume?
From the height and frame of the mannequins to the trompe l’oeil jewelry, the detail of each of de Borchgrave’s pieces is taken to the extreme. They are costumes from another time, if that description could cover it, but more exactly they express real feeling. They seem to have personalities, very much like the 18th and 19th Century portraiture they are based on. Period shoes, fabric draped, pleated, beaded, folded, ruched and embroidered – trims – each minute detail historically accurate. But with a certain animated perfection of something sparkling and new. Intermittently, a sense of the theatrical. That newness is what gave them away. They were all made of paper.
Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave (February 5th – June 12th) at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
By Matthew Kowles
June 28, 2011
Travel Scrapbook : Washington, Monticello and New York
The weekend was one of celebration. The restoration of the wine cellar at Monticello has been completed and to commemorate the occasion patrons, trustees, vintners etc were entertained at the French Embassy in Washington on Friday evening. Ambassador Vimont our gracious host of the evening welcomed all in his engaging and humorous style about the history of the embassy residence, and French American relations before we sat down do a beautiful meal accompanied by some extraordinary wines. I had two marvelous dinner partners that evening, one the owner of a vineyard in Bordeaux, and the other a young wine enthusiast. I say enthusiast because critic sounds so negative to me and as wines are meant to be savored and enjoyed, commenting on wines, rendering an opinion sounds infinitely more palatable, if you will. The running commentary all evening was about the wines and all things related to wines and discussions about adjectives describing wines, like leather, smoke, graphite, etc. It was a delicious, enjoyable, funny and informative evening.
Before checking into Keswick – to get ready for the party there were still a few daylight hours left to……shop, of course, so off to Kenny Ball, for antiques; to And George, where I picked up some, porcelain, a mirrored tray, candles, a fab bamboo and silver candle snuffer. Then ordered six more (the cat’s out of the bag now…somebody’s getting those for Christmas), I always find things there. I love their mix of old and new, their displays, all very enticing. To Joseph, Joseph, and Joseph…a great mix of antiques. I had my eyes on the stone columns in the back room…but for where? And to Mirabelle Antiques a new shop since my last visit. Add that one to your list. Great mix of furniture all beautifully upholstered, accessories well chosen and good value…a must do for my next trip. And yours too. For other shopping ideas in Charlottesville see my previous post about shopping in Charlottesville or see www.thescoutguide.com. Dinner at Monticello that evening can be described in a word…SUBLIME…
And prepared by Daniel Boloud…..who had flown in for the evening from Miami where he is opening a new restaurant. Let’s just say we honored Mr. Jefferson in an appropriate and elegant manner.
The next morning we went back up to the mountain with a group who were visiting Monticello for the first time. Susan Stein, head curator, met the group for a special tour. From there we took them to UVA to the Rotunda and the Lawn for another history lesson.
A dash back to the hotel to grab bags, to the plane and back to New York.
Tuesday night was a presentation by Michael Bruno, founder of 1st Dibs, for patrons of the Costume Institute of the Met Museum.
Michael is a walking talking case study…if you do not know the story of his company, take another look at 1stDibs.com, or go hear him speak, next chance. In today’s Wall Street Journal there is a great article on Michael and his latest venture into the fine art world. Pick up a copy and head for the ‘Off Duty‘ section. (Nearby to my article on Cecil Beaton’s scrapbooks.) While I know Michael well, and know his story it always reinforces some of the golden rules of success in business.
- You must be willing to take risks.
- Understand that the contrarian view is not a negative view, but it could be the most profitable.
- Timing is everything…seize the moment.
- Believe…believe in yourself…believe in your idea…believe in your dream.
- You are IT kid. Nobody can make it happen but you.
I had been to see the Chaos and Classicism exhibition at the Guggenheim on a Sunday morning, but when the opportunity came up through the Couture Council at FIT to have a private tour with Ken Silver the curator of the show- I jumped at the chance.
It is only on the rare occasion that I am in the museum on a week day, and I must say I was thrilled to see the crowds of people and lines to buy tickets. There was quite a buzz in the air. We had a small group of six, and each of us hung on Ken’s words as we worked our way up the ramp. Ken is a like a human catalog, with an animated and humorous delivery. He filled in the gaps, connected the dots between all the pieces in the exhibition. What I also enjoyed was seeing the banter between Ken and Valerie Steele, Director of the Museum at FIT. When the two of them talked you could see sparks of enthusiasm fly.
The Chaos and Classicism exhibition explores the classicizing aesthetic that followed the immense destruction of World War I. It examines the interwar period in its key artistic manifestations: the poetic dream of antiquity in the Parisian avant-garde of Pablo Picasso; the politicized revival of the Roman Empire by artists such as Giorgio de Chirico and Mario Sironi; and the functionalist utopianism at the Bauhaus.
Chaos and Classicism runs until January 9, 2011. For more information please visit The Guggenheim’s website.
I attended a lecture at the New York School of Interior Design by Edwin Schlossberg of ESI Design. ESI Design is one of the world’s foremost design firms, bringing the missions of world-class institutions to life by inspiring people to discover, engage, participate and learn.
In 2010, the city of Shanghai hosted the World Expo, a major exposition of culture and innovation from around the world. ESI Design collaborated with the Shanghai Corporate Community and a group of world-renown architects and artists to design the World Expo’s “Dream Cube,” a 40,000 square foot pavilion that encourages visitors to participate in an impressive multimedia experience comprised of cutting-edge technology, dreamlike environments, collaborative social spaces and sustainably designed materials.
Visit the Dream Cube Website.
I hosted a dinner Party at home for Wendy Goodman and Gloria Vanderbilt to celebrate Wendy’s latest book, The World of Gloria Vanderbilt (published by Abrams). Copies are available through Archivia Books. A good time was had by all, and some photos were featured on the New York Social Diary.
Back to Virginia for board meetings at Monticello….
November 19, 2010
Make it easy on yourself, go to The Scout Guide website for more on Shopping in Charlottesville!
The Scout Guide
And George – 3465 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903 – 434.244.2800
The Organic Butcher of Cville – 416 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902 – 434.244.7400
Duo – 101 Elliewood Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22903 – 434.979.1212
Erika Jack Stationnaire – Wedding and Social Stationary, Charlottes, VA – 434.446.0766
Kenny Ball Antiques is always on my must stop list for furniture, accessories, and the thing that was sitting there, waiting for me. Isn’t there always one thing that is just sitting there, waiting for you? And right next door is The Shade Shop, which is the go-to place in Charlottesville for shades of every color and shape.
Caspari for all your paper needs – 100 reasons to have a party – and everything you need for it. (But who really needs a reason? A party is a party.)
Accoutrements for entertaining, setting up a chic desk, for the indoor or the outdoor gardener…the perfect hostess gift. Good Heavens, a little bit of everything! Amongst my must-haves: 24 mini gardening shrugs for a special picnic in the garden, some beautiful tunics for my nieces and a few gourmet goodies…tomato-basil soup…and some colorful files for my desk.
Caspari – 100 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902 – (434) 817-7880
Kenny Ball Antiques – 2125 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903 – (434) 293-1361
June 21, 2010
Other notes from Max… On Rome, and what you should know -
There are three St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, St. Peter in Chains, and St. Peter in Montorio. The last holds the jewel of all jewels, my favorite church in all of Rome. Called the Tempietto it was designed by Bramante at the beginning of the 16th century. The dome inside is so very simple, yet beautiful beyond belief.
One of my tricks of Rome is the self-timer on my camera. Place your camera on the floor of a church or the back of a pew and set the self timer, step back a few feet, and you will get a crystal clear picture of those amazing ceilings.
While you are on the Monte Verde try and get yourself a dinner reservation at Il Cortile di Aldo Salvi on Cia Alberto Mario, 26. The person who recommended it to me said it’s where ‘the serious Italians go to seriously eat.’ I have not gone wrong once eating there.
Don’t forget to read ‘Venus of the Empire,’ an amazing biography by Flora Fraser that charts the life of Pauline Bonaparte. Charlotte gave this to me for Christmas and it remained on my bookshelf for two whole months before I realized the eminent impact of said person on my learning here.
Charlotte also sent me the divine book ‘Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde.’ Reading this gave insight into seemingly every aspect of life– my pen rarely seems to lift from the page for lack of a line to quote in the future.
When in Rome…
Via Marmorata, 47, 00153 Roma – Tel (06) 57 13 77 59
Without doubt the most amazing deli, specialty food that store I, or anyone in my family, has ever been too. From white truffles to fresh ravioli, to ricotta stuffed zucchini flowerettes, to prociutto some say is the ‘best best best EVER.’ NOT to be missed!
Via del Babuino, 173, 00187 Roma – Tel. (06) 32 60 03 61
Known for its amazing art supplies since 1264, the company has expanded and grown now selling spectacular leather goods, goregous invitation blanks, and pens from all over the world.
Renato e Luisa
Via dei Barbieri, 25, 00186 Roma – Tel (06) 68 69 66 0
Hidden away in an alleyway right off the Largo Argentina in the center of town, this restaurant is classic, classic Italian fare. Little to no English, on the menu or spoken by the wait staff, always leads me to the best food–and this place is no exception. Try the swordfish and asparagus stuffed ravioli–if it is one of the day’s specials. I can attest that the filet with prune sauce is out of this world!
Felice a Testaccio
Via Mastro Giorgio, 27/29, Roma Tel. (06) 57 46 80 0
Known by Romans as perhaps the best restaurant in Rome, a reservation is required and the interior leaves a little to be desired (like most Italian restaurants), but once you have tasted the food all citicisms will fall to the wayside. Spaghetti with parmesan and black pepper is tossed at your table…considered the house specialty for a reason.
We look forward to more postcards from Max’s travel to Florence, Capri and beyond…. Coming soon! Thank you, Max!
Photography by Max Sinsteden.
Graphics and Layout by Matthew Kowles.
January 5, 2010
I always look forward to going home to Virginia. My most recent trip was three days and three cities this Autumn.
Traveling to Charlottesville, I visited Monticello. My visit ended most graciously with a lunch for four in Mr. Jefferson’s greenhouse. After a morning of history and culture…I chose an afternoon of commerce! I went to visit my friend Kenny Ball’s antique shop on Ivy Road. Kenny, unfortunately, wasn’t there as he was in New York running the NYC marathon that weekend. Whenever I am in Charlottesville, I always find time to visit – and I always find something – or in this case somethings. I found a brass and leather tray table, a red Moroccan leather box, a large pair of tole planters and a French Empire Chest.
After Monticello, off to Somerset to see the farm of a friend – a leisurely visit amongst enormous boxwoods in the shadow of tall white pines and walnut trees. A restoration in process – I can’t wait to see their progress every step of the way. We talked through the cocktail hour over icy martinis, then I was off to the Downtown Grill in Charlottesville to have dinner with family.
Saturday afternoon I headed to Richmond down I-64 awash in golds, ambers, russets and reds as the maples painted the roadside. I have not been to Richmond for a while and I was very eager to get back to Kim Faison’s shop on Grove Avenue.
Layers of furniture piled high, mostly French and Italian, cabinets full of delft and Faience…. I spied a pair of Empire arm chairs, a pretty French settee, a Spanish Samovar and a small and shapely Italian hall settee.
You can not do antiquing in Richmond and not go to Kim’s store. An antique gene and finely tuned eye must run in the family. Her mother Caroline Faison has a shop in Greensboro, North Carolina. And when I was in Kim’s store this particular Saturday, her son Ben Cochrane was minding the store – three generations.
That evening I went to a cocktail party – my school reunion. It was a walk down memory lane, full of laughs, with a background of Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Gladys Knight & the Temptations – the best dancing music EVER. A trip to Starbucks the next morning, and back on the road to Irvington, Virginia.
Carter’s Creek is where my sister lives by the water. A river view from every window – a postcard of Virginia. Leaves turning under the warm Virginia sun, neighbors’ sailboats gliding by – the banter of Canadian geese was the only thing interrupting the silence. Martha took me on a tour of the area…a trip to the “riv-ah” – the Rappahannock – and then to visit Comer & Co., where Alison Drake opened up early so I could shop. Comer & Co. is a brand new store in Kilmarnock, the new ‘go to’ for antiques, decorative accessories, great paintings and watercolors, lamps, books, fragrance, etc. Among my purchases was a bookstand where my own book was being displayed, a leather wing chair, an Empire chest, a gilded mirror, some creamware, a blackamoor, and…Woops! Gotta stop there – the rest are Christmas presents!
Three Days, Three Cities, Three Great Shops…
Kenny Ball Antiques – Charlottesville
2125 Ivy Road #7 · Ivy Square, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Kim Faison Antiques – Richmond
5605 Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA 23226
Comer & Co.
21 North Main Street, Kilmarnock, VA 22482
All photography by Charlotte Moss.
Graphics & layout by Matthew Kowles.
November 18, 2009